Ratking – So It Goes

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Aptly named, New York City hip-hop crew Ratking have that subterranean royalty thing on lock, coming off as a Wu-Tang-ish package of power and empire-demolishing purpose on So It Goes, a murky slab of revolution music that overcomes its accessibility issues with pure excitement.

Speaking of accessibility issues, the first track’s title is a symbol, and the first four cuts play out like a chaotic remix of Yeezus with all sliders on the graphic equalizer pushed up to 11. The epic N.Y.C. commentary of “Snow Beach” is worth the active listening it requires, while “So Sick Stories” (“seems I’m either puffin’ the bliss, or cuffs on wrists”) with special guest King Krule is a bitter triptych that provides open-minded listeners with some rich, alternative eye-level views. Still, when Ratking need to get serious and sharp, they certainly do. Check out the instant “Remove Ya” and the chaos of cop vs. protester clashes comes through the headphones loud and clear, while the loops of soul and the snide, singalong chorus found on the title cut are superior College Dropout stuff, although if any of this trio wed a Kardashian it should be taken as a covert operation of Death Grips proportions.

One minor caution is that the album is so N.Y.C.-oriented that those unfamiliar with subway schedules and urban overcrowding might need a glossary, but removing these hurdles might have muddled with the album’s authenticity. So It Goes is as pure as they come, so strap in and get ready from some rich rewards and hard truths because this one returns hip-hop to a time when it was “dangerous,” and in the best, most progressive way possible.

Judgement & Sentencing by David Jeffries

Savage Messiah – The Fateful Dark

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The fourth long-player from England’s Savage Messiah, The Fateful Dark forgoes any and all attempts at subtlety by infusing its very Seventh Son of a Seventh Son-era Iron Maiden-inspired inaugural moments with a wailing air raid siren. It’s an effective move, and also a bit of a red herring, as the remaining five minutes of album-opener “Iconocaust” are more concerned with navigating the serpentine hallways of groove-kissed, melodic thrash than they are the dual lead-driven blast of traditional power metal. Vocalist/guitarist Dave Silver can sneer like Dave Mustaine, but he can also reach the nosebleed seats with a fairly convincing Halford-esque falsetto, which he does to great effect on the meat-and-potatoes single “Hellblazer,” a propulsive slice of double-kick-fueled melodic metal mayhem that evokes classic Helloween, Testament, and even Dio.

The first half of Fateful Dark feels somewhat traditionally structured, leaning harder on the Bay Area thrash-meets-new wave of British heavy metal side of things, but the proceedings adopt a more progressive state of mind on the back half, with the surging, funereal title cut and the like-minded “Zero Hour” tearing through genres like the Big Bad Wolf blowing down a line of hastily constructed Mc-Mansions. Things speed up again with the one-two punch of “Hammered Down” and “Scavengers of Mercy,” eventually coming to a head on the relentless closer “The Cursed Earth,” and effectively signaling the end of another seductively wild ride from one of heavy metal’s last purists.

Judgement & Sentencing by James Christopher Monger

Jerry Lee Lewis – Another Place Another Time (1969)

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This is an excellent country record, which includes the two songs that put Jerry back into the charts (the Country charts, that is) and nine others that are great and wonderful Honky Tonk barroom music.
Jerry Lee’s vocals here are just right for this kind of thing, full of sorrow and loneliness.

Most of the songs are original material (meaning it’s newly-written by Nashville’s top songwriters), but there’s a top-notch and fun up-tempo cover of Ernest Tubb’s classic “Walking The Floor Over You” (as if to say he still knows how to boogie), a beautiful rendition of Merle Haggard “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive” plus a luring “Break My Mind” from the John D. Loudermilk songbook. Also this has the first version of “Before the Next Teardrop Falls”, which later became a huge crossover hit for Freddy Fender. The longing ballad “All Night Long” should not be confused with the up-tempo-rocker of the same name he cut at Sun records, they are completely different songs.

On the Smash albums from the late 60s Jerry sounds very professional – and to the point – and he shows a very different side of him, still these songs are full of personality and feeling, he lives every song!
I have this as album as part of the The Locust Years…And the Return to the Promised Land box, but it’s also available as a two-fer with the similar stunning follow-up, if you don’t want to get it as 2nd hand vinyl.

Judgement & Sentencing by Paul Elliott.

Eddie Noack – Psycho: The K-Ark & Allstar Recordings, 1962-1969

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Eddie Noack had a rough ’50s, working hard and never scoring a hit, but that’s nothing compared to his ’60s. After he was dropped by Mercury, the singer wound up drifting to Allstar, a fly-by-night Nashville indie that specialized in “song poems” — suckers would send in lyrics and pro musicians would set them to music, for a fee — and found space for Noack, a songwriter who had success, but a singer who had none. At Allstar, he was usually able to record his own songs, but Noack wound up chasing trends instead of setting them. Specifically, he wound up cutting several singles in the style of Buck Owens & the Buckaroos, sides that may not have charted but illustrated Noack was a pro, capable of following shifting fashions and delivering upon them ably, even appealingly.

Throughout the sessions chronicled on this 24-track collection, it’s always evident that Noack was a guy who knew what makes a good country song work, whether he’s writing a tune or singing one, but his flat affect meant that he never quite seemed like a star; he just was another good country singer in a time filled with them. This sturdiness and all the shifting styles, also evident on his late-’60s sides for K-Ark, make this 2013 Bear Family set feel like the music coming from a forgotten jukebox, and that’d be enough to recommend it to hardcore country fans, but this is also distinguished by the first-ever version of Leon Payne’s unsettling “Psycho.” Written from the perspective of a serial killer — and loosely inspired by the serial killers Ed Gein and Richard Speck — “Psycho” was later popularized by Elvis Costello, who found it through Jack Kittel’s version, but Noack’s is the first and greatest, partially due to his stoicism: he sounds so nonplussed by the horror he chronicles that this flirts with being outsider art — quite an accomplishment for a Nashville insider.

“Psycho” could be called unparalleled if only Noack didn’t bewilderingly cut a de facto sequel immediately afterward in the form of “Dolores,” an original tune also written from the perspective of a serial killer. It’s as if Noack thought “Psycho” had the possibility of being a sensation so he’d better have another tune in the same vein. Combined, these two oddities elevate Psycho into something truly special: a compelling voyage through the dark, twisty, unmapped side roads of ’60s country.

Judgement & Sentencing by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Noah

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First things first, Darren Aronofsky’s story of Noah and his ark is far-removed from the source material and Cecil B. DeMille extravaganzas. Instead, this film chooses the sort of human-scaled practicality that aims to allow us to smell the dank disgusting odour of a wildlife park for 40 days and nights on a water-swept vessel – with very mixed results.

This film’s Noah (Crowe) lives in an Old Testament world, which hasn’t seen evidence of the Creator’s existence since He marked Cain for killing his brother Abel. Cain’s wandering descendants are vicious warriors who plunder the Earth and all its inhabitants, while Noah and his family of vegan believers trying to outpace the savage mobs who, as yet, haven’t heard about any golden rules – a sound case can be made for reading the film as an ecological parable.

Throughout its mind-numbing 140 minute screen time however I sat there and shook my head while Noah was first befriended by fallen angels portrayed by rock monsters (with glowing eyes and computer voices), then watched as they helped him build the ark (and protect him from the evil men who wanted to take over the ark), bared witness to Noah believing he was being instructed by “The Creator” (the word God is never mentioned in the movie) to kill his granddaughters born on the ark because they were capable of continuing mankind. Basically, this is a stupid sci-fi fantasy B-movie aimed squarely at the popcorn crowd who will boundlessly suck up the upcoming Transformers movie.

Judgement & Sentencing By Paul Elliott

Protomartyr – Under Color of Official Right

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Post-punk quartet Protomartyr’s second album Under Color of Official Right follows their stellar 2012 debut No Passion, All Technique with an expanded sense of exploration as well as more nuanced production. The band was spawned from the same closely knit scene of Detroit noise punk bands that produced Roach Clip, the Intended, and Tyvek (Tyvek songwriter Kevin Boyer even played guitar on early Protomartyr albums), and their earliest output shared the same raw energy and sloppy, bristling approach as those bands.

Without losing the push of their less refined early recordings, Protomartyr sharpen all the elements that make them stand out with Under Color of Official Right. The band’s tightened performances leave plenty of negative space, filled tastefully by guitarist Greg Ahee’s winding leads or explosive, reverb-saturated chords, as on the bombastic chorus of “Come & See” or the spindly, slightly gothic lines of melancholic opening track “Maidenhead.” Pads of synthesizer and more experimental vocal treatments show up here, warping vocalist Joe Casey’s deadpan delivery of a list of problematic characters at the end of “Tarpeian Rock” until the song sounds like the Fall dubbed out by King Tubby. Casey’s obtuse, clever, and occasionally poetic lyrics are another winning characteristic of Protomartyr’s equation, filling the moody backdrops set up by the band with rich images of desperation, banalities, and cryptic prophecies. The band hails from Detroit, but keeps far away from tired themes of urban blight, abandoned buildings, and other well-traversed ponderings about life in the shadows of the crumbling city. The most Detroit-centric the band leans is the lyric “And from the balcony, the sound of Greg Baise laughing” that ends “Pagans,” referring by name to a notable Detroit show promoter.

Though always approaching their sound with angular precision, the band is more direct here. The rhythm section of drummer Alex Leonard and bassist Scott Davidson set up strange skeletons for every song composed of unconventionally constructed drum patterns and fluid basslines, always with a mind for making lots of space. When the band rocks out with punk blasts like “Son of Dis” and the completely erupting “Want Remover,” they maintain all of their exactitude, just at quicker speeds and in more furious waves of sound. The 14 songs of Under Color of Official Right see an already incredible band moving even further forward in their development, approaching the same instant classic standards of their best contemporaries and turning in their most intricate work so far.

Judgement & Sentencing by Fred Thomas.

The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream

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When Philadelphia-based purveyors of stripped-down, haunted rock perfection the War on Drugs came on the scene with their 2008 debut, Wagonwheel Blues, their sound perked up the ears of a new generation of soul searchers looking for a soundtrack. Summoning up the patron saints of FM radio rock, the band was constantly framed as an update to the wild-eyed sermons of Dylan and Springsteen or the summer-night abandon that Tom Petty perfected, all filtered through walls of decidedly indie guitar noise. Founding member Kurt Vile left the band to pursue his blooming solo path by the time of 2011′s Slave Ambient, leaving key songwriter Adam Granduciel running the show completely for that album’s well-received set of songs and heightened production.

Work on follow-up third album Lost in the Dream began while the band was on tour in 2012, with the full process of writing, demoing, and recording stretching out over a 15-month period and employing five different studios in as many states. Instead of resulting in a piecemeal pastiche of discordant ideas, Lost in the Dream actually represents the most fully realized statement from the group thus far, with all ten songs gelling together with a sense of purpose and understated brilliance the band came close to before, but delivers in full here.

Starting with the epic two-chord gallop of “Under the Pressure,” Granduciel offers up song after song of incredibly restrained yet entirely engaged rock. The classic rock reference points led to a “blue-collar rock” labeling of the band’s sound, and while there are undeniable callbacks to Petty, Dylan, and Springsteen here, as there were on earlier albums, the War on Drugs have come into their own with their sound. What comes on as simplistic or even predictable rock instrumentation always unfolds to reveal buried synth sounds, horn blurts, long ambient passages, and — more impressively — an unexpected emotional depth propping up the bare-bones songs. While “Burning” channels the same yelping frustration and working-class trudge of Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark,” songs like “Red Eyes” and the gorgeous “An Ocean in Between the Waves” meld Jackson Browne’s inward-looking sensitivity and Fleetwood Mac-like mysteriousness with an edgy depravity belonging to Granduciel alone.

The songs are expansive, regardless of their tone, with the ten tunes sprawling out into almost an hourlong running time, leaving no stone unturned in their nuanced production and deceptively simple presentation. In this way, Lost in the Dream is the War on Drugs’ Daydream Nation or Disintegration; lengthy distillations of similar themes result in wildly different threads of song, all connecting again in the end. It’s a near flawless collection of dreamy vibes, shifting moods, and movement, and stands easily as Granduciel’s finest hour so far.

Judgement & Sentencing by Fred Thomas

The Double

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Walking into The Double I was already intrigued – Richard Ayoade directing an adaptation of a Fyodor Dostoyevsky novel, starring Jesse Eisenberg in two roles, co-written by Harmony Korine’s brother – I wasn’t disappointed, this is a hilarious, Kafkaesque horror with heavy nods to Polanski, Lynch and Gilliam.

Eisenberg’s main role is as Simon James, a submissive office worker with an escalating identity crisis. Simon’s ID card won’t scan and the security guard doesn’t recognise him. (“You’ve seen me every day for seven years!” “That can’t be true – I don’t work weekends.”) More painful is a non-relationship with Hannah (Mia Wasikowska), positioned as the girl of his dreams who forgets his name.
The Double takes on a more literal approach when Simon James is gobsmacked when his doppelganger, James Simon, steps into the workplace to much admiration. In accordance with the nightmare, no one can spot the similarities, even though Eisenberg plays both parts without any visible irregularities beyond body language – worse of all, Hannah is instantly attracted to James.

Ayoade’s precise direction is an acquired taste and one I wished would last longer than the film’s 94 minutes as he has created a world so delightfully idiosyncratic that J. Mascis – as a school janitor – comes across as one of the most normal characters. Ayoade’s next film can’t follow in this dystopian vein because he won’t beat it – but if he tries, I’ll be first in the queue.

Judgement & Sentencing by Paul Elliott

Bad Brains – I Against I (1986)

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In 1986, it had been three years since the release of this bands previous full length offering – Rock For Light – and a lot of things had changed. Most notably the band’s music. Gone are the days of their hardcore punk. Instead, we are left with a handful of mid tempo songs that give the band room to strut their stuff. It’s slower yes, but the power they wielded in their debut – their self-titled 1982 release – is still there.

It starts off with “Intro,” just a little jam. After that comes the title track and “House Of Suffering,” arguably the band’s best two songs. As great of songs they are however, they seem a bit dry (no reverb) and this sucks some intensity out of them. Also, on “I Against I,” the lead singer HR (Human Rights) overdoes some of his “singing.” After hearing the version on the Omega Sessions EP, I’m not very happy with this version.

HR isn’t the only thing going on here, the rest of the band is where most of the interest is. They’re tearing up the place with tight and funky playing. Guitarist Dr Know is all over the place on his solos, and the rhythm section of Darryl Jenifer and Earl Hudson lock into a seamless, powerful groove. One could argue that this album is the precursor to funk metal. There isn’t too much else you could call this stuff.

For once the production is damn near perfect, give thanks to Ric Ocasek not being present. The bass is loud and proud, as are the drums. Hell, everything is mixed in wonderfully. The only thing that bothers me is that the first two songs, not counting “Intro,” are too dry.

This is Bad Brains’ masterpiece. As much as their hardcore stuff kicked ass, this album shows them in full form. It’s diverse, powerful, and damn good. The minor shortcomings on this album, mainly HR bad delivery on “I Against I,” don’t hurt the album overall. In retrospect, this dull review shouldn’t lead you to believe this is a dull album, because it’s not. It’s the opposite, it’s a classic and is easily in the ranks of other legendary rock albums, such as Back In Black and Are You Experienced?

Judgement & Sentencing by Paul Elliott

A Long Way Down .

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Director :- Pascal Chaumeil.

Easy to watch, funny well selected team of four individuals from all walks of life who decide at the exact same time to throw themselves off the tallest building in London on Christmas eve.

These strange combination of characters form a unique bond with each other and – as the tale unfolds – end up being the salvation needed by each other to live and improve there lives instead.
Martin Sharp (Pierce Brosnan) a breakfast show host that self loathes himself for a under aged sexual relationship which destroyed his marriage and family as well as his career, Maureen Thompson (Toni Collette) the desperate mother of a seriously ill young man who see’s it as his hope for a better health care, The troubled soul of young Jess Crichton (Imogen Poots) haunted by the loss of her sister and hiding in the shadow of her fathers political status (Sam Neill) And lastly J.J.Maguire (Aaron Paul) the last of these buddies that delivers pizza to make ends meet after becoming a failed musician.
The three decide to make a pact to not kill themselves – until at least Valentines day – and to keep each other safe.

I enjoyed this film for the funny loose way their stories and situations unfolded to show never give in for you can do it with the help of friends.

Give it a try, it’s a serious issue done as a fun story, which resulted in a enjoyable time spend in the cinema .

Judgement & Sentencing by Maria Elliott

"There's Only Two Types Of Music – Good & Bad!" (Duke Ellington 1899-1974)

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